BACKGROUND: Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a perception of sound in the absence of overt acoustic stimulation. In some cases, tinnitus can be influenced by temporomandibular somatosensory input, then called temporomandibular somatosensory tinnitus (TST). It is, however, not entirely known if orofacial treatment can decrease tinnitus severity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of orofacial treatment on tinnitus complaints in patients with TST.
METHODS: Adult patients with TST were included, and all patients received information and advice about tinnitus and conservative orofacial treatment consisting of physical therapy, and, in case of grinding, occlusal splints were applied. Included patients were randomly assigned to an early start group and a delayed start group according to our delayed treatment design.
RESULTS: In total, 40 patients were included in each group. The treatment effect on tinnitus severity was investigated using the tinnitus questionnaire (TQ) and Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI). Regarding the TQ score, no clinically relevant reductions were observed, and no significant differences in the decrease were observed between the early start group and delayed start group. Contrarily, a significantly higher percentage of patients showed a decrease in the TQ degree in the early start group compared to the delayed start group (30.0% versus 2.8%, p = 0.006). The TFI score did show a significantly greater and clinically relevant reduction in the early start group compared to the delayed start group (p = 0.042).
CONCLUSION: A multidisciplinary non-invasive orofacial treatment was able to reduce tinnitus severity in patients with temporomandibular related somatosensory tinnitus.